According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 15 million adults, aged 18 or older, suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD.
This is a chronic brain disease that begins when a person develops a preoccupation with alcohol. It’s characterized by an inability to control and limit alcohol intake. There are many levels of AUD, with alcoholism or alcohol addiction being one of them.
Those who suffer from alcoholism are overcome by the need to drink, though it’s harming both their personal and professional lives. Over time, their tolerance levels become so high that they require more of the substance to achieve the same effect. In turn, they begin to engage in dangerous levels of drinking that could cause physical and emotional harm to themselves and those they hold closest.
Fortunately, there are alcohol addiction recovery programs out there that can help.
If you or someone you know is in the throes of alcoholism, a step toward freedom is closer than you might think. Today, we’re exploring a few benefits of recovery programs. We’ll also share why it’s easier, smarter and more effective to let an expert walk you through the process than try to tackle it yourself.
Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in.
1. Medical Attention
As damaging to one’s health as alcohol addiction can be, the stages of withdrawal can be equally concerning.
When an addict drinks over a long period of time, his or her central nervous system becomes accustomed to the substance. In general, alcohol depresses bodily systems. That means it slows down your brain’s function and alters how your nerves communicate with one another.
The nervous system in a heavy drinker has to work in overdrive most of the time to counteract this response and facilitate normal functioning. When an addict attempts to quit drinking cold turkey, the alcohol is removed from his system, but the brain and central nervous system cannot respond as quickly.
As such, they remain supercharged for an extended period of time. That’s why symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically include anxiety, heavy sweating, nausea and body shakes. In more severe cases, sufferers can experience hallucinations or even seizures.
A professional alcohol recovery provider will be able to stabilize the addict and monitor him or her for any withdrawal symptoms as they occur. If any issues do arise, the provider can help the addict seek appropriate and immediate medical treatment to prevent further complications.
Working through an alcoholism recovery program requires more than a one-time meeting. Rather, a professional treatment provider will meet regularly with the addict, who may also require inpatient care.
As such, a level of trust and accountability are established. As the addict knows there will be regular and routine check-ins, he or she is less likely to relapse or attempt to sneak “just one drink” on the sly. This is essential, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that a staggering 90% of people suffering from alcoholism relapse four years after completing treatment.
Remember, alcoholism and AUD are chronic brain diseases. Thus, though an addict might have all intentions of personally tackling the condition solo, it’s more than a mental feat. There must be specific tactics used that only an expert trained in this arena will know. Simply wanting to quit and having the ability to do so are two different things.
In many cases, recovery will require a long-term effort and multiple recovery approaches. Throughout the process, accountability will be maintained to help encourage addicts to stay the course and complete each round of treatment.
3. Delving into Attachment Disorders
In some cases, adults might turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms to make up for a lack of affection or attention. This neglect might stem from childhood or it might have been initiated later in life.
Regardless, these substances can offer a sense of security and comfort to those who feel abandoned, neglected or otherwise unstable. Moreover, this response often occurs without the addict even realizing it.
As one seeks recovery from alcohol and its paralyzing grip, a professional treatment provider can help bring to light any past hurts that might be catalyzing the addictive behavior. In this way, the recovery process can be as emotionally therapeutic as it is physically healing.
A specialist will sit down with the addict over a period of sessions to learn more about his or her past. Were one or both parents absent? Was there physical or emotional abuse in the household? Were there any traumatic events that occurred during the teenage years? Though not always the case, these situations can often trigger addictive behaviors, including excessive drug or alcohol use.
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Sometimes, it isn’t a past event or series of events that cause an addict to turn to alcohol in the first place. Rather, they begin to self-medicate with the substance because of a current environment that causes them stress or anxiety.
Perhaps it’s an unfulfilling or overly demanding work environment. Or, maybe they have a difficult time interacting with certain people in their social or family circles. Regardless, trying to fix the situation by drinking is never the answer and can lead to a path of self-destruction.
A professional alcoholism recovery program may include a kind of short-term counseling known as cognitive behavioral therapy. During these sessions, a treatment expert will help guide the addict toward healthy ways to respond to stressors. From meditation to exercise, there are myriad ways to mitigate feelings of anger and mental pressure.
Understanding how to approach these situations and circumstances in this way can help addicts better cope with their daily lives without turning to alcohol.
5. An Emphasis on Social Support
Anyone who has ever lived with or supported a family member who is addicted to alcohol understands that this isn’t a self-contained disease. Rather, its repercussions can stretch across generations.
As such, when someone is recovering from alcoholism, it’s helpful to have his or her family and close friends involved in the process, as well. The reality is that alcoholism affects even the families that look like they have it all together. No one is immune to its grip and it can leave a devastating amount of hurt in its path.
As such, as the addict seeks treatment, having a close circle of loved ones on board can help reduce the risk of relapse. In fact, recent research shows that the presence of such social support can directly influence treatment outcomes in the case of alcohol dependence syndrome.
Of course, this might also be a period of time during which an addict has to make difficult decisions concerning who to keep around socially, and who is enabling the addictive behavior. For instance, an addict may need to remove himself from certain social circles that engage in heavy drinking in an effort to stay sober.
In these cases, a professional recovery expert can help the addict navigate those conversations. During this time, the addict can also establish next steps to move forward successfully without feeling isolated.
It’s physically impossible to stop in most cases. Yet, someone addicted to alcohol might still be ashamed and embarrassed to talk about his or her condition. Fearing judgment from friends and family members, the addict may spiral deeper out of control with no outlet to turn to.
This is where professional treatment can make all the difference. Many times, these programs will include group therapy sessions, where addicts can meet together with others going through the same journey.
Here, they can vent their frustrations, share things that are working for them, celebrate their victories (both big and small) and learn from the experience of like-minded peers. This can improve their mental health, as science reveals that putting our thoughts into words creates a therapeutic effect in our brain.
This group can also act as accountability partners, encouraging an addict to stay the course and complete treatment. In many cases, the program participants keep up with each other and continue that level of support even after the formal recovery process is complete.
7. Discovering a Dual-Diagnosis
Of course, alcohol addiction can originate on its own and be a singular burden. Yet, there are many times when it is only one part of a larger medical diagnosis.
For instance, an addict might be addicted to alcohol and also possess a mental health disorder, such as heightened anxiety. Or, the alcoholism could be an offshoot of depression or even bipolar disorder.
Though the link between alcoholism and other diseases isn’t always cut and dry, researchers have determined that there are often shared traits. In the case of bipolar disorder, for example, they have found that people who suffer from both diseases possess the following:
There are differences in the brains of those who suffer from bipolar disorder. These neurological connections can also affect the way someone responds and becomes attached to alcohol. In effect, the risk of alcoholism is heightened.
Those who are bipolar often experience anxiety or depression over their condition. This can make dealing with even the most ordinary situations impossible. As such, they turn to alcohol to calm down, though it only leads to more tension as the cycle continues.
Lowered Inhibitions During Mania
The opposite of depression, when a bipolar person is on a manic upswing, he or she is euphoric. Inhibitions are lower and there is a feeling of almost invincibility. This can lead sufferers to make poor decisions, especially surrounding alcohol. This can increase its use and exacerbate symptoms.
8. Next Steps for Post-Treatment Care
Recovery treatment programs are only part of the process. To increase the chances that an addict will recover for the long-term, there must be a continued commitment toward treating alcohol addiction.
Most reputable treatment programs will include next steps to help guide the addict toward living a life free from the past. These may include medical referrals, print materials, community resources or more. By taking this assistance to heart, an addict can help turn temporary abstinence into more of a lifestyle.
Away from the safety and security net of a recovery program, the real world can look like an intimidating web of triggers and setbacks. Knowing where to turn and who to talk to at any time of day or night is a critical step in preventing a relapse.
Find Alcohol Addiction Recovery Services Today
Deciding to seek professional treatment on the road to alcohol addiction recovery is an important first step. While there are many personal issues that can be overcome without the intervention of others, this is not one of them.
Connecting with trained professionals who are qualified to provide care designed to meet your needs is essential. Yet, with so many options at your fingertips, you might not know where to turn. This process can be especially overwhelming if you’re trying to figure out which providers are included in your insurance coverage and which aren’t.
Thankfully, this is our expertise. We work with major insurance providers, as well as top-notch addiction recovery resources. We’ll work with you every step of the way to determine your ideal course of treatment. Then, we’ll help connect you with services that are included in your coverage.
You’ve already got a lot to think about. Let us take this off your plate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can set you and your family on a path toward healing.